Perry and Dewhurst ceremonially sign the "defibrillators in school" bill: but what will it really do?

Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst were doing the rounds of schools in Austin, Houston and San Antonio today to ceremonially sign (i.e. photo-op) Senate Bill 7, the defibrillators in school bill.

SB 7 requires all schools to carry an automated external defibrillator, and have one available at all sporting events. According to House Research Organization stats, 15 Texas students have died of heart attacks in the last 10 years. The fiscal note expects the state will have to buy an extra 11,200 defibrillators: at $1,500 a pop, that’s over $20 million just to buy, never mind maintain and replace. There will be a training program, which is a good thing, because studies published in journals Resuscitation and Academic Emergency Medicine both say even short exposure to an AED increases the ability to use it correctly. The bill also ensures that staff will not be liable in court if they use the paddles.

There would seem to be even less doubt about the medical benefits if the other half of this bill, which introduces heart health examinations for school kids, at a cost of roughly $58 per child. There is to be a pilot program under which six-year-olds will receive a free electrocardiogram and echocardiogram, to look for any possible cardiovascular problems. But there may be a downside. If every child in Texas is being screened for heart conditions, doesn’t this give medical insurers a fantastic opportunity to say, “oops, sorry, pre-existing condition, can’t cover you”?

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Education, Health & Human Services, State Budget, Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, defibrillators

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